Pacific War 6: Dutch East Indies Army Infantry Weapons -1 reply

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#1 9 years ago

The Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (Koninklijk Nederlands Indisch Leger, KNIL) was not a part of the regular Dutch Army, rather, it was a separate branch of the Dutch military specifically formed for service in the Dutch East Indies. The KNIL also had its own air arm independent of the regular Dutch Air Force.

The KNIL consisted of soldiers who volunteered in Holland, as well as white Dutch colonists and local Indonesian recruits. It was illegal for regular Dutch Army conscripts to be deployed to the Dutch East Indies. The local formations were generally more numerous but less well equipped. Overall, the KNIL received better equipment then the regular Dutch Army due to the fact that the Dutch believed war with Japan was far more likely than the Dutch getting involved in a war in Europe. When the Germans overran the Netherlands in 1940, the KNIL soldiered on, receiving weapons purchased by the Dutch government-in-exile. In December 1941, total strength was 85,000 men, with 35,000 of these being regular soldiers and the rest being local militia, civilian volunteers and territorial guard units. Of the 35,000 regulars, 28,000 were indigenous Indonesians and 7,000 were Dutch volunteers or colonists.

After its defeat in the Dutch East Indies campaign, some units of the KNIL formed resistance groups like the Americans in the Philippines. Others fled to Australia. KNIL forces would not see action again until a few hundred participated in the recapture of Tarakan and Balikpapan in 1945.

(This might overlap with Invictus' thread a bit, but I think this is justified due to KNIL being a separate branch of the Dutch military).

Mannlicher M95


The standard rifle of Dutch infantry both at home and abroad, the Mannlicher rifle was adapted by the Dutch to fire 6.5x52mm ammunition. The gun was originally an Austrian design, but its variants equipped many armies in the war, including the Italians, Romanians and Bulgarians.

The M95 was fed from a 5 round magazine. The magazine was loaded by a clip, and the clip was ejected from the bottom of the gun after it was used up. The bolt handle remained horizontal during reloading rather than rotating like most bolt action rifles.

steyr_m95_cl_f.jpgClip being loaded.

A carbine version, the M95/30, was aslo issued.

steyr_m95_l_f.jpgM95/30 Carbine

Mann95bayo1.jpgBoth versions could be fitted with a bayonet.

The Dutch purchased large numbers of M1941 Johnson semi-automatic rifles, but these were not delivered before the Japanese invaded. They would be diverted to the US Marine Corps and would not be received by Dutch forces until the war was over.



An improved version of the World War 1 MP-18 SMG. Fired 9x19mm parabellum from a 20 or 32 rd box mag. Around 2,420 were available at the outbreak of war. The gun was called the M.29 in Dutch service.

Thompson M1928

SMG_Thompson.jpgKNIL soldier with M1928 Thompson

The .45cal M1928 was also used. Around 1,930 were available at the start of the war. Both 50 round drum magazines and 20 round clips were used.

Madsen Machine Gun


The primary light machine gun of Dutch forces in Europe, the Madsen was also used in large numbers by the KNIL. A Danish weapon, the Madsen came in several calibers, with the Dutch using the variant firing 6.5mm ammunition from a top-feeding 40 round clip.

knil1pw.jpgKNIL troops with a Madsen gun on exercises, 1941.

madsenM15.jpgKNIL also possessed a shorter version of the Madsen designated the M15.

Breda Modello 30


KNIL also had a number of Italian Breda 30 light machine guns. These guns had been captured from the Italian Army in North Africa by the British and then sold to the KNIL. They could be easily utilized due to the guns firing the same 6.5x52mm ammunition as Dutch rifles (which were also adopted by the Italians as the Carcano). The gun suffered from many reliability problems, especially with the complicated ammunition feed system. The gun was much less common than the Madsen, with only 200 being available in the East Indies at the outbreak of the war.

Vickers Machine Gun

The Dutch had around 1,000 Vickers Machine Guns on hand. They possessed versions of the gun chambered in both 6.5x52mm and .303 cal. Designated M.23 HMG by the Dutch.

Solothurn S-18/1000


The Swiss/German Solothurn antitank rifle was the main antitank weapon of KNIL forces. The semi-automatic weapon fired 20x138mm rounds from a 10-round detachable box magazine, giving it a heavy recoil. It was a full 7 foot 1 inch long and its size and bulk (120lbs weight) made mobility difficult. The gun had a massive 3000 fps muzzle velocity and could penetrate 35mm of armor at 300m.

Some models were fitted with a telescopic sight. The gun was typically operated by a two-man crew. It was called the Tankbuks M.38 in Dutch service. The guns were in short supply so they were issued at a rate of 2 per infantry battalion, attached to the battalion machine gun company.

attachment.jpgSolothurn AT rifles could be fitted with wheels for easier movement.

solothurn1vu9.jpgThey could also be fitted with scopes.

Colt Model 1903


The Colt M1903 Pocket Hammerless .38 cal semi auto pistol was used by KNIL as a sidearm. Fired .38 ACP from a 7 round magazine.

Luger P08

The German Luger was used by Dutch troops in some numbers.

Mauser C96

The Mauser automatic pistol was used by KNIL as well.


I didn't make it!

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#2 9 years ago


knilreenactors7it.jpgRe-enactors in green KNIL uniforms


Standard KNIL helmet was the Dutch M28 steel helmet.

Dutch_1.jpgM28 Helmet.

Sometimes KNIL troops would add a leather or cloth neck cover to protect the back of the neck from the sun.

KNIL_troops.jpgKNIL troops with captured Japanese battleflag, Palembang 1942, showing helmet neck covers.

Often, helmets were not worn and bush hats similar to the Australian style were worn instead.

Groep1.jpgKNIL unit wearing bush hats.


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#3 9 years ago

Well done, i always liked the KNIL.. keep it up!


Requiescat in Pace

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20th March 2008

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#4 9 years ago

Well done. KNIL got a special place in my heart. :)


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#5 9 years ago

Good but make sure your stating proper facts...


...Both 50 round drum magazines and 20 round clips were used. [/quote]

Thompson didn't use a clip. The difference between a clip and magazine is significantly different. As I'm sure you know, a clip is what a Garand or k98 is fed.

Maybe you meant to say something like;


...Both 50 round drum magazines and 20 round stick magazines were used.

Also I believe there was a 30 round magazine made as well (could be wrong..)


Requiescat in Pace

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20th March 2008

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#6 9 years ago

I'm sure Megaraptor knows that :p AFAIK 30 round magazines where only used for the US M1 Thompson.


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#7 9 years ago

Anyone have any other sites that have greater detail about the small arms used by th eKNIL?

Bob Naess Black River Militaria CII


My Blood Is Olive Drab

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19th November 2003

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#8 9 years ago
'[130.PzW.Fuchs;4754543']I'm sure Megaraptor knows that :p AFAIK 30 round magazines where only used for the US M1 Thompson.

I think the M1 used the 20-round magazine mainly.

There was a 30 round. Apparently it was awkward to use, carry and it had a minor feeding/jamming issue.

But I think in all, the 20-round magazine was much more common.


Shedmaster and FH Betatester

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28th April 2005

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#9 9 years ago

Hehe, that's some real fancy uniforms.


Me Does Not Post Much

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27th January 2007

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#10 9 years ago

No wonder they lost with that kind of camouflage...